Apache Beam: easily implement backoff policy in your DoFn

In Apache Beam, DoFn is your swiss knife: when you don’t have an existing PTransform or CompositeTransform provided by the SDK, you can create your own function.

DoFn ?

A DoFn applies your logic in each element in the input PCollection and let you populate the elements of an output PCollection. To be included in your pipeline, it’s wrapped in a ParDo PTransform.

For instance, you can transform element using a DoFn:

pipeline.apply("ReadFromJms", JmsIO.read().withConnectionFactory(CF).withQueue("city"))         .apply("TransformJmsRecordAsPojo", ParDo.of(new DoFn<JmsRecord, MyCityPojo>() {                   @ProcessElement                   public void processElement(ProcessContext c) {                       String payload = c.element().getPayload();                       MyCityPojo city = new MyCityPojo(payload);                       c.output(city);                   }          })

We can see here the core method of DoFn: processElement() annotated with @ProcessElement.

If you have to deal with resources, other annotated methods allow you to tweak the DoFn lifecycle:

  1. @Setup is called when the DoFn is created on the worker.
  2. @StartBundle is called when the runner starts a bundle of data. The bundle size depends of the runner.
  3. @FinishBundle is called when all elements in the bundle has been processed.
  4. @Teardown is called when the DoFn is stopped on the worker.

Adding Backoff Policy

Now, in your @ProcessElement method, if an exception occurs, the current bundle is just invalidated and not processed.

So, you might want to implement a retry strategy, replaying the data processing logic.

Apache Beam provides utils allowing you to easily implement this retry policy: it’s what we name backoff policy.

FluentBackoff is a convenient util class where you can define a retry policy with:

  • an initial backoff delay between the retry (incremented at each attempt)
  • a max number of retries

To illustrate this, let’s create a DoFn using this:

public class DoFnWithBackoff extends DoFn<JmsRecord, MyCityPojo> {   private static final FluentBackoff BACKOFF =       FluentBackoff.DEFAULT           .withMaxRetries(5)           .withInitialBackoff(Duration.standardSeconds(5));   @ProcessElement   public void processElement(ProcessContext c) {     Sleeper sleeper = Sleeper.DEFAULT;     BackOff backoff = BACKOFF.backoff();     while (true) {       try {          String payload = c.element().getPayload();          MyCityPojo city = new MyCityPojo(payload); // can raise an exception          c.output(city);       } catch (Exception e) {         if (e instanceOf BusinessException.class) {           // in case of custom business exception, we don't retry           throw new BusinessException();         }         // retrying changing the content if required         if (!BackOffUtils.next(sleeper, backoff)) {           // we retried the max number of times           throw e;         }       }     }   }}

The Apache Beam backoff utils give you complete control and you can implement your own retry policy.

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